Friday, January 21, 2022

Comfort Cooking

You know what it does – by its very name “comfort food”, but what works for you and when do you turn to it?  Is it chocolate chip cookies with a glass of icy milk in the middle of the night when sleep escapes you? Or chocolate anything following bad news (such as when the scale refuses to go down a pound or your bills continue to rise)? Do you savor every crumb and morsel, or does part of the comfort come from wolfing it down in private with no spectators, and wondering later how it really tasted?

For some, comfort foods often come with nostalgia for times and people gone by, and folks turn to them when they are feeing physically cold or mentally a bit blue. They may not be ‘favorite’ foods, but are well-liked.
The recipes and cooking methods are decidedly unorthodox but the results are eminently edible.

Here is a tasty, nourishing recipe that was handed down from several generations,  for Rice Pudding. As such, some the measurements for ingredients may not be too specific but they work.

Here is what you need:

9×9-inch glass baking dish
2 – 3 tsp. butter
1 quart of milk
cooked rice – 3/4 cup (more or less) – any kind – wild rice is also good
eggs -3 – 4 large
vanilla (optional)
2 tsp. of sugar or artificial sweetener
handful of raisins (optional) dried cranberries are good too
cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 325º.

You will notice a few ‘optionals’ – if you don’t like the taste of those  ingredients, they are not essential to the success of the finished product.

Put the butter in the baking dish and put under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully until it becomes brown – do not burn.

Remove and allow to cool while you heat the quart of milk in a saucepan. Do not boil the milk, just bring up the heat until just before a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool – stir to help the process.

Beat the eggs well until frothy, adding sugar/sweetner and vanilla.

When the milk is cool enough to touch (or you will have scrambled eggs) add the egg mixture and stir well. Stir in the dried fruit if you are using any, and the rice  – and pour the mixture into the baking dish. The browned butter should rise to the top.

Dust with cinnamon if desired.

Carefully place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let in rest for another 15 minutes before removing.

This is not your traditional ‘loose’ rice pudding, but should be served in squares more like a firm custard. Some like it warm, some like it cool, and some like it garnished with maple syrup or cream. I guess it depends on how much comfort you need.

This recipe has earned considerable success and rave reviews when delivered to folks who were undergoing medical treatments that left them with no appetite and little ability to digest normal food. Grandma’s Rice Pudding not only piqued their appetites but also provided some needed nutrition when all else failed.

Do you have a story about food or a recipe that also works miracles? Tell us about it.

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